Wader tracking projects

The VWSG conducts in collaboration with the AWSG satellite tracking on five migratory wader species: Grey Plover, Whimbrel, Eastern Curlew, Little Curlew and Oriental Pratincole.

Read the latest satellite tracking updates

AWSG Satellite Tracking Projects

The Australasian Wader Studies Group (AWSG) has been using satellite transmitters for tracking the migration of shorebirds visiting North West Australia since November 2013.

Little Curlew: In November 2013, five 5g satellite transmitters were deployed on Little Curlew in Roebuck Bay, Broome. A further three transmitters were put onto Little Curlew at 80 Mile Beach in February 2015.

Grey Plover: In February 2016, five units were deployed on Grey Plover in Broome. A total of 10 units were deployed in South Australia by VWSG in 2017, and two of these grey plover migrated to Wrangel Island. This was the first evidence of south-east Australian plovers using this island during the breeding season and confirmed hypotheses made many years earlier based on biometric data.

Whimbrel: It was decided to extend the satellite transmitter program to Whimbrel in 2017, with five 5g units being deployed at both 80 Mile Beach (one bird) and at Broome (four birds). This was carried out during the NWA 2017 Expedition, in February 2017.  One of these transmitters on the bird from 80 Mile Beach is still functioning (as of April 2020). In February 2018, another 16 tags were deployed (see Fudan University tracking below).

Grey-tailed Tattler: A trial was conducted on 5 tattlers in 2017 using 2g Microwave Telemetry solar PTT. However, the transmitters failed before any migration data could obtained. In 2018, another 5 tags were deployed, which yielded more information.

Oriental Pratincole:  The AWSG deployed, 5 satellite transmitters on Oriental Pratincoles (2g PTT units) in February 2019.

Far Eastern Curlew: The Far Eastern Curlew project is being co-ordinated by Amanda Lilleyman, at Charles Darwin University, and is a partnership with the VWSG and the AWSG. Updates can also be found on the Wader Quest website.

Banded Stilt: The VWSG collaborated with Reece Pedler to place transmitters on Banded Stilt in South Australia.

Fudan University Whimbrel and Godwit tracking project

Satellite tracking of waders in Australia is also being conducted by Prof. Ma Zhijun at Fudan University, Shanghai.

In Moreton Bay, a total of twelve individuals of three species were fitted with 5g solar PTTs (Microwave Telemetry, Inc.) in 2017 and 2019. This included 6 Whimbrels, 2 Black-tailed Godwits and 4 Bar-tailed Godwits. Three whimbrel and two bar-tailed godwit tags were still operating as of September 2019.

During the North-west Australia Wader & Tern Expedition 2018, a total of 16 whimbrels were fitted with tracking devices on 24 Feb at Quarry Beach, Broome. Five of them were fitted with 5g PTT (Microwave Telemetry) and the others were fitted with GPS-GSM tags (Hunan Global Messenger Technology Co., Ltd). As of September 2019, three whimbrels with PTTs and fitted with a GPS-GSM tag were still transmitting.

The Global Flyway Network

The Global Flyway Network (GFN) tags large number of mostly Red and Great Knot in north-west Australia, and more recently, Bar-tailed Godwit in New Zealand.

Thanks to various sources of funding and international help, the adult bar-tailed godwits satellite-tagged in November 2019 are now yielding fantastic tracks across the western Pacific, from New Zealand to the Yellow Sea. With the specific help of the Dutch ‘Gieskes Strijbis Foundation’, these tracks and the amazing flights of these birds has been available to the public. This was done by commissioning Bastiaan Blaauw to create (with the help of Yvonne Verkuil) a new tracking website.

Please contact Theunis Piersma or Bastiaan Blaauw if you have any queries or feedback about the new website.

To get regular updates on GFN wader tracking, please check the GFN website latest news.